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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


Pièce-Sur-Pièce Construction

by Linda Hoad

In Historians,
Preliminary Architectural Studies,
Volume 01, Unpublished Report HG 02
(Fortress of Louisbourg, 1972,  
Report Number H G 02 01 04)

Pièce-sur-pièce construction is really, a variant of frame construction, but it has been treated separately here because there is a fair amount of contradictory secondary source material, both historical and archaeological, concerning this type of building. Only the primary source material will be considered in this study, however.

There are only three documents in the Domestic Architecture file concerning pièce sur pièce buildings and no cartographic evidence. Thus, one can conclude that it was not a common method of construction in Louisbourg.

The earliest reference is to a forge, storehouse and bakery built in Port Dauphin in 1715. This reference is the most detailed and is translated here in full:

These building are made of pièces sur pièces: that is, beams which one puts one on top of the other, which are fitted into slots in other pieces of wood which are set upright at 10 pieds intervals. This sort of building lasts 40 or 50 years. These buildings are roofed with bark, but it will be necessary to shingle them at a latter date.

The next reference to a house in Block 32 which was exchanged in 1751. No further details are given.

The last reference to a pièce sur pièce house is in a sale in 1752. The house, described as small, was located on the north side of the barachois de Lasson and was sold for 200 livres.

It is evident that documentary sources will have to be supplemented with source material from other geographical locations and secondary source material if design of these buildings is to be undertaken.